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Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud: Understanding the Distinction

Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud: Understanding the Distinction

The State of Texas – along with every other state in the nation – takes fraud extremely seriously. When the fraud in question is a federal offense, such as mail and wire fraud, it makes the matter that much more serious. While the terms mail fraud and wire fraud are often lumped together, there are distinctions that are worth noting.

The Charge of Fraud

Before you can make the distinction between mail fraud and wire fraud, it is essential to understand what the act of fraud is. Fraud refers to a plan that intends to separate an individual or entity from assets, property, or money without the individual or entity’s consent. Instances in which someone is tricked out of assets are often deemed fraud.

Mail Fraud

Mail fraud relates to fraud schemes that are perpetrated via the mail, including both public and private couriers (since both process through the U.S. postal system at some juncture in the process). Mail fraud can apply to any type of mail, including:

  • Postcards

  • Letters

  • Manilla envelopes

  • Any size package (from the smallest to the largest)

Familiar examples of mail fraud that continue to thrive in the United States include:

  • Ponzi schemes in the form of chain letters that promise participants a massive return on their relatively small investments

  • Mailed documents that solicit sensitive personal and financial information

  • Mailed credit card applications that attempt to establish synthetic identities (building credit for bogus SSNs)

Wire Fraud

Wire fraud, on the other hand, relates to the use of electronic means of communication in the commission of fraud. Wire fraud can include fraud that is instigated via any of the following forms of communication:

  • Phone calls

  • Text messages

  • Emails

  • Faxes

  • Instant messages, direct messages, and messages on any other electronic platform

It’s important to note that fraud schemes often involve both wire and mail fraud, making the potential legal consequences that much more severe.

Legal Consequences

The charge of either mail fraud or wire fraud comes with the possibility of up to 20 years in prison and with potential fines of up to $250,000. Suppose the accused is an organization, then the maximum fine increases to $500,000. Further, if the target of the mail or wire fraud was a financial institution, such as a bank, or if the fraud was predicated on a natural disaster, the potential sentence is elevated to a maximum of 30 years behind bars with up to $1 million in financial penalties.

Seek the Legal Counsel of an Experienced Killeen Criminal Attorney

If you are facing fraud charges of any kind, Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a practiced criminal attorney who is committed to employing his impressive experience in pursuit of your case’s most favorable resolution. Our legal team is well-positioned to craft your defense in support of your legal rights and your brightest future. We are here to help you every step of the way, so please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.

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